September 27th, 2016 - Jason
It’s not often that games are made with people knowing ahead of time it is the last for the company. Usually a company closes because profits are not high enough, or some undisclosed event shuts them down. RIVE was announced in 2014, and on March 10th, 2016 a trailer noted that this would be the final game from Two Tribes. This announcement was made six months before the game actually released. While it’s not a certainty the team won’t ever make games again, under another name or with other people, it’s always sad to say goodbye. But at least it was on their terms, and they went out with a hell of a game.
RIVE is the culmination of all Two Tribes’ previous efforts and is one of the best 360 degree shooters I’ve played since Resogun. While the entirety of the game isn’t something you would expect from the likes of Housemarque, the twin stick gameplay is tight throughout and brings plenty of challenge along with it. If you find yourself pining for the days when this genre was difficult outside of the bullet hell games, you’ve found the perfect game. That’s not to say the game itself is perfect, but there’s a lot it does right.
When you begin your journey, you start it on hard mode. For some, this will be immediately off-putting. What if you wanted to play on “see the story” mode? Legends tell of an easier mode, but the only way to access it is to be so bad at the game that it takes pity on you, like a daycare attendant that sees you have no idea how to pack your own child a lunch and gives you the recipe for a PB&J, with step by step instructions. That’s not to say you won’t be dying if you’re competent at games, as you will be. Certain parts of the game rely heavily on trial and error, unless you are a precognitive.
As you traverse space and the ship that is infested with robots built for the sole purpose of ruining your day, you’ll find yourself platforming through electrical fields, lava filled air ducts, and conveyer belts with the stompiest of stompy machinery hoping to get a piece of your spidertank. Said spidertank is capable of shooting a machine gun, upgrades that include the likes of a rocket launcher and shotgun blast, jumping (because what’s a spidertank without the ability to jump), and hacking. At the beginning, hacking is merely a way of booting up the power for certain devices, but later becomes useful for bots, such as healers and attack turrets. Sadly, this help does not last forever, as too much use or time passing pushes them to detonation. I mean, you didn’t think these were built to last forever, did you? Just long enough to kill you.
While the gameplay holds up well, even with sections that are trial and error, the dialogue of the game may make you groan depending on how you like your humor. It’s not that the writing, or even the delivery, is bad. Mark Dodson does a great job of voicing both characters in the game. But meta humor has become so commonplace in games that it straddles the line of humorous and cliché. Much like the memes of the internet (of which you’ll hear while playing the game), it’s hit or miss. Humor is something that deserves to be in more games, but the way it’s implemented sometimes feels cheap with references to internet culture nowadays. Will these jokes hold up in thirty years when people that have never seen the lines get it? Will it be funny without knowing the reference? Only time will tell – that’s the risk when making referential humor. It’s the feeling I get when watching MST3K and people are laughing at the lines – I wonder if they actually get the jokes, or if they are laughing because they are supposed to.
In addition to playing the game like you normally would, the game offers plenty of challenges in the way of trophies, including not killing bosses, keeping a hacked healer with you until a certain part of a level, not dying, etc. If you’re a completionist, this game should keep you busy for a while, with masochists loving every bit of it. And of course in a game like this you need a leaderboard so you can compete with your friends. After each level you’ll see the different stats that contribute to your overall score allowing you to perfect your gameplay to beat out your buddies.
A twin stick shooter made for those with the patience for a From Software title and the competitive nature of a nine year old playing Call of Duty. After the puzzle games EDGE and Toki Tori, several licensed games, and various other titles, RIVE is one of those standout titles people will remember Two Tribes for when looking at indie developer catalogues.
- Precise Controls/Gameplay
- Fun Upgrades/Hacks
- Extra Challenges
- Forced Trial and Error
- Hit or Miss Humor
RIVE was developed and published by Two Tribes. The game launched on PC and PS4 September 13th, 2016 for $14.99. It is expected to launch later on X1 and Wii U. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of RIVE, check out the official site. If you’d like to wish the team of Two Tribes well, you can do so here.
Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.